Is our fear of catching COVID-19 a public health concern?
It’s just a word. Yet that word immobilized the world. Even though the virus cannot stop the world, the fear of catching it can. In fact, the chances of catching the fear of virus are probably greater than the chances of catching the virus.
It probably has to do with why we have survived so far. We learn from our past, and this helps us avoid a dire future. It has been great so far. But it’s not that bad at the moment. This constant preoccupation with tomorrow makes us sick today. Many call him coronaphobia. The mere thought of contracting this disease is enough to make us sick.
Try to hope (instead of worrying) too much
Source: Photograph by Lonny Meinecke
The cure for worry is hope
It’s just a word. Yet this word can make us feel better. Say it out loud and there is hope. It seems logical that, if irrational fear makes us sick, then hope can make us better. You see, worrying about getting sick shouldn’t make us sick (but it does).
If negative thinking can magically make us sick, why can’t positive thinking (magically) make us better? Doesn’t that make sense? The same things that make us sick for no apparent reason (neurotransmitters) will probably also make us feel good for no apparent reason. Think of it as a psychological vaccine for the mind.
An optimistic bias can compensate for a pessimistic world
Do we have proof? Yes. Bias of pessimism? Meet optimism bias. The optimism bias is the belief that things will end well, no matter what. Even if we can’t cash the future itself, we won’t feel so depressed until then. The neuroscientist Tali Sharot puts it this way: “We can’t all be better than everyone else. But if we think we are better… we are more likely to get that promotion… because we are more sociable, more interesting ”(Sharot, 2012, para. 8).
She’s not the only one to think so. Other scientists have discovered that the simple act of creating positive expectations for the future can relieve symptoms of major depressive disorder. The interval between today and the future is a very long opportunity to fiddle with our expectations. If we expect the worst, our sympathetic nervous system takes a heavy toll on us. But if we expect the best, the weather until then becomes a chance to foster the neurotransmitters that make us feel pretty good. It’s called future oriented therapy.
The Doctor Is In: Here is Prognosis and Prescription
Our illness is simply that we worry too much.
The doctor’s opinion? Hope.
Make hope the new pandemic.